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Cary-Raleigh fee dispute isn't water under the bridge yet

Posted May 1, 2008

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— Raleigh leaders want Cary to be neighborly about sharing water from Jordan Lake, but Cary officials say they're not ready yet to call a 6-year-old fee dispute water under the bridge.

City leaders said they approached town officials two months ago about allowing Raleigh to tap into Jordan Lake, Cary's primary water source, during emergencies, including drought-related conditions.

"If we had an emergency, we would ask them for water, and if they determined in their sole discretion that they had no water available, they could sell it to us," Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said.

An agreement drafted by Cary, though, contains a $1.573 million up-front charge for Cary to make the service available to Raleigh – a fee that Allen said "is absolutely not appropriate in this circumstance."

Cary Town Manager Bill Coleman said the charge is appropriate because it would cover the cost of the increased capacity that Cary would have to sustain to fulfill the agreement.

The $1.5 million fee stems from a contract Cary signed in 1998 to buy water from Raleigh while the town expanded its water treatment plant. The contract was set to expire in 2003.

Coleman said Raleigh leaders insisted Cary managers "get off the (city) system" and "use whatever means necessary ... to finish that plant early." Financial incentives spurred contractors, and they finished the work a year early, Coleman said.

Cary wanted to stop the flow of water into the town and money out, but, Coleman said, Raleigh's city manager told him that Cary "had a contractual obligation that Raleigh relied upon for supplying water" and owed $3 million. They went into mediation, and Cary paid out $1.3 million.

Cary wants to charge Raleigh the same amount, plus six years of interest, that the city charged the town during the drought of 2002, Coleman said.

"I don't believe I would be living up to my responsibility to the citizens of Cary if I agree to sell water under conditions less stringent than they sold water to us," Coleman said.

Allen said the current circumstances are different than when Cary bought water from Raleigh.

Then, Raleigh reserved a specified amount of water for Raleigh. The city, though, has asked Cary only to agree to sell water under certain circumstances that would depend on availability, and an availability fee does not apply, Allen said.

"There is no way I would recommend that (draft agreement) to the City Council," he said.

Coleman said Cary is willing to draft an agreement, without the availability fee, to cover emergencies, such as breakdowns in water treatment or distribution.

A drought is a capacity-demand issue that involves planning and is not an emergency, Coleman said.

15 Comments

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  • getrealpeople May 2, 2008

    Cary signed a contract and when they finished the plant they didn't want to pay. Now they want to charge that for inter connection. Sorry but Raleigh's lake is full and they will not sign this. Anyway Raleigh has never bought water from anybody unlike Cary relied on water from Raleigh at cheap rates and charged 4 times the rate to their customers. Cary needs Raleigh more than Raleigh needs Cary's little extra 5 mgd.
    "We process and reuse treated waste water for irrigation" notfrom here...you also drink your own waste water your so smart.

  • ncguy May 2, 2008

    Cary should charge them more then that. Raleigh leaders are so worried about being reelected that they do not look at would sour a voter- reguardless if it hurts the whole.

    So this is what you get Meeker

  • dws May 2, 2008

    corvair024, step down from your pulpit, read the article again and understand (this time) the background of this issue....

  • WRALcensorsforIslam May 1, 2008

    The city government of Raleigh has acted arrogantly and price gouged the people of Cary. Now, our city government is sticking up for the people of Cary and protecting our interests against an arrogant and irresponsible city government in Raleigh.

    Frankly, the Raleigh resident who suggested the city of Raleigh up tolls, go ahead. Obstruct Federal Interstate highways. We'll get to see a Federal or State prosecutor throwing Raleigh city officials in jail for a dumb stunt like that.

    Raleigh has refused to enact water restrictions to conserve water for years. That's not Cary's fault and the city of Raleigh owe's us $1.5 million. Before Raleigh gets a drop of Cary water the bill needs to be paid. Period.

  • luckie13 May 1, 2008

    Mr. Corvair, This past fall Mr. Allen was like Nero who played his fiddle and watched Rome burn. Instead of taking steps to conserve water, Raleigh continued status quo. Then when things got worse, they want someone to throw them a line. The lifeline has been thrown, all you hae to do now is grab it, instead you complain about the rope. Thanks Cary for doing the right thing years ago, otherwise there would be no rope to throw to our good neighbors.

  • AtALost May 1, 2008

    I'm a fan of Raleigh, but it does sound like this is fair. You can't tell me what to charge for something I own. Either take the price I offer or go elsewhere.

  • corvair024 May 1, 2008

    What is wrong with you people? Do you not realize Raleigh AND Cary need each other? Are you people so self centerered that you personally blame the people of the other city of fault? Can none of you see that it is not your average citizens that makes this decision but the law makers and gov't of NC? Your comments so far make me sick...I can see when it comes down to it you are the type of people to hoard thousands of gallons of water and watch your neighbor die of thirst. Shame on you. If you have problems quit blaming one another and take an active stance with the gov't law makers and decision makers. Otherwise you should really just be quiet as you make yourself look like an ignorant imbicile.

  • NotFromHere May 1, 2008

    Careful that Cary doesn't put a toll on I-40 between Raleigh and RTP.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama May 1, 2008

    Raleigh should put up tolls on I-440 and all roads going from Cary into Raleigh and only charge the people of Cary for the privilege of driving on the roads in Raleigh that were paid for by Raleigh taxpayers. Without Raleigh, Cary would dry up and wither away.

  • dws May 1, 2008

    take a hike Raleigh

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